This is our Top-Ten list for things everyone needs to know about grants! With these tips you will be beter equipped to find and win a government grant.
These tips are important to understand because so many people are confused about grants. Sometimes they think grants and federal aid are the same thing, which they are not.
Part of the reason it's important to know more about grants is to be able to avoid people who want to “help” you get grants - for a fee - when actually these grants either don't exist or are only available to government agencies or non-profit organizations.
We begin our list with the final tip:
- Number 10: There's no such thing as “free” money grants. Grants are free in that they do not have to be repaid, but they do include obligations which are absolute requrements. You must do the work necessary to find and win the grant. You must then proceed to successfully scrupulously carry out the grant according to its specifications. If you are really looking for help because you need financial aid, see our page Federal Assistance in the United States.
The remaining nine of our “Top Ten”! This is the most important information about Grants: (Note, for our Top Ten Free Money Resources, take a look at our January 2014 Newsletter!)
- Number 9: You need to know what type you want in order to find one for which you are eligible. You definitely don't want to waste your time looking for or even applying for grants for which you do not qualify. Those who award grants say that lack of eligibility is one of the most common reasons that applicants don't get grant.
For fast help learning more, check out Types of Grants and Where to Find Them.
- Number 8: The U.S. Government awards billions of dollars in grants each year; takes a look at the top ten grant-awarding agencies that award grants. This list has been recently updated to show the numbers for 2013 (previously the most recent data available was for 2009). The largest giver of grants was the Department of Health and Human Services; the smallest on the list was the Environmental Protection Agency. An interesting agency showed up for the first time: the “Agency for International Development”, coming in at $7.9 billion. We'll be doing some digging into that….
- Number 7: Because of the Federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act, there are new grants and new business to be had with the government. Check out our discussion of Federal Business Opportunities to discover more.
Be aware that this site is not for individuals but specifically lists opportunities for businesses. The good news is that because of the Federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act there should be more opportunities for businesses.
- Number 6: There are many websites that offer information for a fee. Be wary of these websites. Don't give private or sensitive information (like credit card numbers or your social security number) to someone you don't know and trust - ever! And be aware that you never should have to be a fee to apply for or receive a grant. We have had many instances of people receiving phone calls saying that they have won a grant and they just have to send in some sort of fee to get it. Just hang up!
- Number 5: When you find a promising grant, be sure that you are eligible. Lack of eligibility is one of the main reasons grant applications lose – and that's time you can't afford to waste. Read a great discussion of eligibility issues on the Morrison Grants blog.
- Number 4: Successful grant proposals contain common elements; learn what they are in Writing a Good Grant Proposal. For a basic and straightforward summary of grant writing tips, check out an article by Waddy Thompson, author of “The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grant Writing”. And don't forget that you don't have to write a grant proposal yourself — sometimes it can be helpful to get professional assistance if you can afford it.
- Number 3: Be sure your proposal is well organized, well written and is making a reasonable fund request. Get great free advice and guidance from Non-Profit Guides, including tips and lots of samples. They do not sell anything or provide any kind of service other than what is provided on the website - just clear, concise, solid information. Kind of like us!
- Number 2: Winning an award is just the beginning - Congratulations! Be sure to follow through on the agreed grant contract: track finances carefully; provide necessary reports; meet all deadlines!
Have something else you think should be included in the Top Ten? Go to our Community Welcome page to become a user and share your thoughts! While you're there, take a look at our Ask & Answer page to see what other people have asked and how the community has replied. We value your input, questions and helpful answers.